Sexually active people across Croydon are being urged to take a quick and simple test to find out their HIV status to enable them to seek early treatment if needed.
With National HIV Testing Week starting on Saturday (19), this year’s campaign locally sees an increased number of testing centres set up especially for the week, and remaining in operation until the day after World Aids Day on 1 December.
Now in its fifth year, this important event will increase the opportunities for people to get tested and to also learn more about HIV. Anyone can go along for a free, simple and confidential HIV test, and receive their result within 15 minutes. Receiving an early diagnosis and treatment can help people to live up to a normal lifespan or similar.
Residents are also being encouraged to seek testing all year round at their GP surgery and at the Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic at Croydon University Hospital.
An estimated 103,700 people are living with HIV in the UK and 6,000 people are diagnosed every year according to Public Health England. Of these, 17% are undiagnosed and do not know about their HIV infection1, which means they are not accessing life-saving treatment and care2.
Individuals who are most at risk are recommended to test at least once each year3. Testing for HIV puts you in control and, thanks to treatment, will stop you from getting seriously ill, enable you to live a normal lifespan, and can lower your risk of passing the virus on to anyone else.
There is still a great deal of stigma about HIV, preventing people getting tested, accessing treatment, and living a happy and healthy life.
For this year’s testing week, Croydon Council is working closely with Metro, a leading equality and diversity charity that promotes health and well-being and supports people affected by HIV through a number of services, community participation and involvement.
The full details of the National HIV Testing Week centres in Croydon can be found at www.swish.nhs.uk
Councillor Louisa Woodley, cabinet member for families, health and social care
“Today, if you test positive, effective treatment means you can live as long as anyone else. Testing puts you in control and is nothing to be feared.
“We don’t want our residents to miss out which is why we have taken steps to make it as easy as possible for them to have an HIV test in Croydon. It’s better to know the status of your health by having regular tests so that you can receive treatment sooner, if needed, and understand the facts about HIV.”
National HIV Testing Week is run by Terrence Higgins Trust on behalf of HIV Prevention England, with support and participation from organisations in the public, statutory and private sectors. The week promotes the benefits of regular testing and treatment for both the individual and community, particularly by those most at risk of HIV, including men who have sex with men, and black African people.
Visit www.tht.org.uk/itstartswithme for more information about HIV Testing Week.